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118.785 Principles of Veterinary Epidemiology (15 credit)

Lecturer: Naomi Cogger BSc (Hons), PhD

This single semester course will provide in-depth study of the following epidemiological methods: study type, measurement bias, confounding and selection bias. Throughout the course participants will be encouraged to apply their skills to make evidence based decisions either in a clinical or policy setting. When this course is combined with 118.786 Applied Veterinary Epidemiology participants will have the necessary skills to design population studies to determine the magnitude and impact of a health problem or identify potential risk factors for a particular problem. (Successful completion of 118.785 is required prior to enrolment in 118.786.)

For veterinarians from an unlisted institution this course can be used as part of the discretionary entry pathway into the MVM programme.

Please note: Courses are revised following each offering. Details of content and assessment are subject to change between offerings.

What will you learn?

On this course you will learn:

  • how to describe the magnitude of a health problem and determine the relative importance of risk factors
  • to interpret test results when used in different populations for the purposes of diagnosis and screening
  • to assess with increased confidence and comfort the overall quality of a research paper or report that is concerned with defining the magnitude of problem, evaluating the effect of treatment and causal inference.

How the course works

Principles of veterinary epidemiology is one of the MVM courses  for postgraduate veterinarians which is taught online via distance learning and led by a recognised international expert in the field.

The course is supported by the latest research and reviews  to challenge veterinarians with in-depth, relevant continuing education. Course materials include a printed guide to your reading and assessment which integrates online learning activities such as discussions, quizzes, lessons, library searches, critical evaluation and exercises for self-assessment with reading materials and personal study tasks.

Highlights of the principles of veterinary epidemiology course include: Course notes developed by staff from Massey University’s EpiCentre, the opportunity to develop a firm foundation for critical evaluation of the veterinary literature.

With the MVM programme you have the flexibility to study when and where you want and the support of the MVM team to gain an internationally-recognised veterinary qualification that will help you in your practice every day.

Your lecturer

Dr Naomi Cogger received a PhD from the University of Sydney for a thesis entitled “Epidemiology of musculoskeletal injuries in two- and three-year-old Thoroughbred racehorses”. In 2003 she joined  Massey University’s EpiCentre, and OIE Collaborating Centre in Epidemiology, and is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology  and Risk Analysis. Naomi is a passionate teacher with experience teaching both face-to-face and online. Presently she is a director at the Working Dog Centre and has active collaboration with clinicians. She has also conducted work on projects funded by New Zealand’s Primary Industries, Zespri, and UK Food Standards Agency.

Course features

In-depth part-time study spread over a single semester - allow 10-15 hours per week

Learning materials and facilities

  • Study guide
  • 3 day workshop: face to face or an online option for some sessions
  • Electronic library access

Learning community

  • MVM Commons community site
  • Online case discussion facilitated
  • Social forum


  • Online test
  • Two written assignments

Course requirements

  • Internet access
  • Textbook: there is no textbook required for this course

Naomi Cogger

“ .. if I'd have known what I know about the paper now… this would have been the FIRST paper I would have taken. This paper really gets down to the nitty gritty of not just being able to design a great research project, but also teaches you how to properly critically evaluate the literature. This is an invaluable skill for both me as a clinician, and (as of next year) a researcher!”

contact WORKSHOP information

There will be a 3 day on-campus workshop held at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand. The contact workshop is an opportunity for face-to-face time with your class and lecturer. Together you can build on the knowledge you’ve gained on the course through small group teaching, practical sessions and discussions of experiences in your own practice.

For the best contact workshop experience, we recommend that you attend in person. While attendance is highly-recommended it is not compulsory in order to pass the course. If you can’t make it in person you will be able to join some (non-practical) sessions live via the internet (we endeavour to record these sessions for review, but are unable to guarantee the quality of the recording).

Dates and Timings*

Enrolments open October 2019
Course start February 2020
Contact Workshop Check dates here
Exam period June 2020
Course end June 2020

*Please note: You can still apply for enrolment after the due dates above.
Places cannot be assured after these due dates; but late applications will be considered as long as remaining places are available.

If you have any questions please check with the MVM office.

For more information on delivery and cost please visit the Massey University course site (detailed offering information for 2020 courses will be available from October 2019).

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